There’s something splendidly awful about D.O.A. Dead or Alive, a Westernized martial arts film from director Corey Yuen (The Transporter). It’s not solely the super-sexualized, but never-nude heroines. It’s not just a laughable turn by Eric Roberts as the villainous Devon. No, D.O.A. is the total package of badness, making it the type of film you watch just to ridicule.
I say all this having no knowledge of the game on which the film was based. More than anything D.O.A. looks like a colorful, sexed-up version of Mortal Kombat.
The female characters are introduced with the gusto of that recurring short movie that plays on an arcade game that no one is playing. We meet Kasumi (Devon Aoki,) a Shinobi princess who is trying to rescue her brother; Christine (Holly Valance), a master thief with a talent for making sure her nipples are never in view of the camera; Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly), a professional wrestler who wants to go legit; and Helena (Sarah Carter), the spunky, roller-blading daughter of the late D.O.A. Tournament creator.
Yes, that’s why we are here. To watch these chicks fight each other in next to nothing. They even play bikini volleyball!
Oh, there is a storyline about Roberts’ character Devon using his role as the new director of the tourney in order to build a contraption that steals the fighters’ powers, a technology he plans to sell to terrorists and dictators. It’s not much of a plot, when the focus is the ladies.
Still, casting Roberts was inspired. He’s too perfect for Devon, overplaying the role as he naturally does every one he gets. Here, Roberts, as well as director Yuen, can claim to have made an art out of ham-fisted excess. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but for the 15-year-old males who were likely the target audience it may make up for what they don’t get.
D.O.A. has the allure of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for those young men who haven’t found the world of pornography on the Internet. Come to think of it, a lack of nudity may be why D.O.A. failed so miserably at the box office, and is now relying on DVD and TV to make up the $20 million budget. In today’s world, DOA just doesn’t cut it with audiences, even as a guilty pleasure. Kids aren’t sheltered anymore, and D.O.A. is a film for the sheltered.
So it failed because it wasn’t as dirty as some may have liked. Well, that or it just plain sucked. For anyone who wasn’t looking for teenage titillation, sit back and revel in this one. Movies this ridiculous don’t come out everyday. But thanks to DVD, we still get to enjoy them.
Seriously, do you think they wasted money on decent features?